20 Questions With Sean Olson

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Throughout the 2011 season we will be bringing you either a set of 20 questions from a Gopher cross country squad member or an article focusing on a student-athlete from this years team. In our first crack at 2011 gophersports.com talked with Menomonie, Wis. senior Sean Olson.

Gophersports.com: Why did you first decide to become a runner? 
Sean Olson: The first time I realized I wanted to be a runner was in elementary school. In 4th grade we had to run the mile for the first time. I was the best kid in my class, it was my first ever race victory! I have loved it ever since.

GS:What was the biggest adjustment you had to make when moving from high school cross country to running in college?
SO: In high school, my main motivation was to win races. I never really entered a race that I couldn't win. In college, the level of competition obviously changes. I have had to change my mindset entering into a race since I have entered college. It is about working with teammates and trying to PR in order to help the team. I also have less control over races, in high school I could dictate the pace and manipulate the race. In college, it is much harder to take control of larger, more competitive races.

GS: What is the most difficult course you've ever run?
SO: Hands down, the University of Michigan course.

GS: What is the most unusual or creative workout you've ever run at practice?

SO: During some recovery runs, we will leap-frog up a hill as a cross training activity. That is kind of strange I guess.

GS: What team or individual performance are you most proud of? 

SO: For the team, it has to be qualifying for nationals in 2010 at the Regional Meet in Peoria, IL. We were a bubble team and we came in and got the job done. It wasn't the best team we have had and we were missing Hassan due to injury and we came together with a lot of young talent and made it happen.

GS: Where is your favorite place to run?
SO: River Road, it never gets old.

GS: What is your favorite Minnesota tradition?
SO: Singing the rouser at camp. "M-I-N-N-E-S-O-T-A!!!!!"

GS: What is the coolest part of being a member of the Minnesota cross country team?
SO: Putting on the jersey and actually knowing you're representing the University of Minnesota. You get to compete at the highest level of collegiate athletics. It's pretty special.

GS: What is the hardest part of being on the Minnesota cross country team?
SO: Probably staying positive even when times get hard. Winters can be cold, races can go poorly, and injuries happen. Things can seem bad but attitude can be everything in this sport.

GS: What advice would you give a new runner?
SO: Believe in the program, listen, work hard, and come with a positive attitude and you will get better in this program.

GS: What have you learned from cross country that has helped you in other aspects of your life?
SO: Resilience, whether it is injuries or bad performances or something else, to succeed at running you have to be able to push through, get back up after getting knocked down, and persevere. That carries over into the real world, it is always helpful to be able to push through hard times.

GS: Do you have a favorite sports movie?
SO: Remember the Titans

GS: Where is your favorite place to eat on campus?

SO: Mesa Pizza

GS: What are you listening to on your iPod right now?
SO: Mat Kearney just came out with a new CD that I really like but I never get tired of REO Speedwagon and Bruce Springsteen.

GS: Do you have any race-day superstitions?
SO: Not really anything crazy, I always do a shakeout run, eat a small breakfast, and stay focused.

GS: What are your goals for this season?

SO: I want to be part of a team that qualifies and places well at nationals. I also want to continue the great chemistry and cohesion that the team has exhibited in the past. Without a doubt, Minnesota cross country runners are some of the best and goofiest guys I have ever met. Maybe, it's cliché but the guys on the team are like family. It is important to me that we maintain that friendship and atmosphere.

GS: What is your favorite sport outside of cross-country or track and field?

SO: Basketball, especially college basketball.

GS: What motivates you to run and compete?

SO: Seeing how the work pays off. There is no better feeling than when you get to the end of a race and you still have a great kick left in your legs and you run a great time. You don't get that feeling without getting out the door and working hard.

GS: Outside of running, what do you enjoy to do?
SO: Watch movies.

GS: If you had the choice to travel either forward or backward in time, which would you choose? Why?
SO: I will say forward, because the Vikings haven't won a Super Bowl in the past but I know they have a lot of them coming in the future and I can't wait to see it! 

Camp Blog Day 6: Wrapping it Up with One Last Run and DQ

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Kevin Lachowitzer-Junior

Today was the last full day at camp. We started the day off by traveling to Itasca State Park for a hilly long run and afterwards we visited the headwaters of the Mississippi. When we got back from running, the nice weather we had all week moved out and it rained on and off the rest of the night. This ended the badmitten tournament without crowning a champion for the second straight year. 

The afternoon turned into playing dominos and watching movies. The team was in for a treat for supper, Wayne fried up a meal of fish he had caught this year and Bunch made some delicious desserts to go with it. This was my favorite meal of camp.  

After supper, the team went into Park Rapids for an evening of bowling. After bowling the team stopped at the local DQ and overwhelmed the staff for a few ice cream cones, then it was back to the cabins to start the long process of cleaning up after a week of making messes. The freshman got the privilege of cleaning out and vacuuming the vans for everyone. 

The team looks pretty tired after an intense week of training so I believe it's gonna be an early night tonight.  Thanks to everyone for an awesome week of camp!


Aaron Bartnik-Freshman

It was another early start to the day with the four University vans leaving for the twenty minute drive to the ATV trails at 8:00.  It was a nice, relaxing run ranging between 50 to 60 minutes for most of the team.  Everyone was a little sore form the workout the day before, and preparing for the long run at Itasca State Park tomorrow.  The run was proceeded by strides and returning back to Belle Shores Resort.  Followed by a refreshing lake shower, it was a lazy morning with most athletes returning to their cabins to relax before lunch.

Bunch's amazing turkey sandwiches and sweet potato surprise filled everyone's bellies for lunch.  The food seemed to bring back energy to the team with more activities taking place after lunch.  Minnow races were a big hit of the afternoon with all the athletes and coaches encouraging their minnows down two parallel gutters.  Some of the minnow's names were Chuck Norris, Salty Sulkin, Nevis Nightmare, Disappointing but Consistent, Nemo, Tim, and Never-Ending Daydream.  Freshman Alex Brend came out as the overall champion leading his minnow, Roxxxy, to five wins.  The races were followed by delicious popsicles.

Bocce Ball, badminton, football, swimming, board games, and tanning occurred in the afternoon.  While most people were having a great time, Coach Chris Rombough decided he would be anti-social and take a three hour nap missing team bonding time and the second practice of the day....naughty naughty. 

At 4:30 the team met for a short and relaxed second run of the day.  Hurdle mobility drills and a medicine ball routine followed.  Another lake shower and tanning session followed the run.  A wonderful dinner of spaghetti, salad, and bread was served around 6:30.  Puzzles and relaxing ended the night of another day at CC camp.

Camp Blog Day 4: Tempo Run!

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By: Steve Sulkin-Sophomore 

Today was everyone's favorite day at camp; tempo run day. We drove out to Park Rapids and ran our tempo run back to Belle Shores. Coach Rombough marked out the miles for us so we could keep track of our paces. Overall it was a good workout. Because we all ran hard in the morning, everyone just laid low for the rest of the day until the afternoon run. 

For the afternoon practice, the freshman reluctantly ran in the water. Everyone else ran on the roads outside Belle Shores. When we got back, Plaz set up kayak races for the whole team. In the third place match, which my team was too good for, Larz, (Andrew Larsen) drew first blood after getting nailed in the head with a paddle by Coach Rombough. In the championship race, I left Hassan in my wake when I handed off to Skaret. But Drew was too strong and he overpowered Skaret for the victory. Soon after the race, I beat Larz in badminton again, maintaining my crown as best from Illinois. Too bad that makes me second worse on the team. 

At night time we had our team bonfire. Every year the freshman have to stand up and sing their high school fight song. I am convinced that half of them just made it up and sang the Minnesota rouser with a couple different words. Alez Brend just read the words off his phone and it made no sense. By the end of the fire, everyone was exhausted from the tempo run and kayak races so we fell asleep easily. 

Camp Blog Day 3: The Traditional Badminton Tournament

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By: John Simons-Juinor

Day three of Cross Country Camp began with an early wake up to a brisk temperature of 47 degrees!  Everyone had warm clothing on when we met up for our morning run.  It was a shock to everyone's system to wake up to such cool temps, but in a few months we will be begging for 47 degrees.  After a quick meeting we hopped into the mini vans and headed to the Karmel Forest/ATV, but before we reached our running destination we passed through "The Biggest Little Town in the World" Emmaville.  Everyone went on an easy run through the rock and sand filled trails of the ATV trails and followed it up with a couple of strides.

Took the minivan back with Coach Rombough and had to survive through one Carrie Underwood hit after another.  When we arrived back at the Belle Shores Resort everyone started wackin the shuttlecocks around for the beginning of the Badminton Tournament.  From about 10:30AM until dusk there was always a game going on.  Notable performances included the unstoppable duo of the masseuse Greg and Freshmen Aaron Bartnik extending their undefeated winning streak to 13 games, Coach Rombough emulsifying a defenseless butterfly after a missed point, and Erik "Trudy" Trudeson's unforeseen upset of Captain Hassan Mead followed by and elimination dive off the pier.

There were other activities besides badminton including a return to the bridge for more diving, a delicious lunch from Bunch, tanning... and burning, a second run for the upperclassmen, and Coach Plaz demonstrating his angling skills with Captain Mead and Bobby Nicolls.  After a great taco dinner from Bunch a group of guys went into a cabin for the viewing of "Inglorious Basterds", while others played the Domino game Mexican Train.  Everyone got together one more time to have a bowl of ice cream before calling it a day.

Camp Blog Day 2: Another Great Day to Be a Gopher!

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Slideshow Day 2

By: Adam Zutz-Freshman 

After great nights worth of sleep, my day began bright and early at 7 am. With a few other freshmen, I headed over to Cabin 1 to fuel up with a light breakfast before our run. Once my stomach was happily filled up with a banana and cereal, we headed back to our cabin to continue the difficult process of waking up. At 8am, the team met outside for our run. Coach Rombough was a tad late, as he had woken up at 8:01. Hopefully tomorrow Rombough will have gotten enough beauty sleep, and wake up on time.

Once we had all piled into the mini-vans, we embarked on a short drive to the "Q" loop for our run. The weather was great for running with a clear sky, and cool temps. It was great to get out on the dirt road's and go over a few hills. When we were done with our run, we hopped back in the vans and drove back to Belle Shores. By the time we got back to camp, we had noticed that Greg (our massage therapist) had arrived. He received a warm and enthusiastic welcome by all members of the team. Even more important, Greg arrived with the flag, which Coach Rombough had unfortunately left back in the locker room.

Soon enough, it was already time for lunch. On the menu today were sandwiches and sloppy joes. After lunch we had free time until our second workout at 4:30. Many members of the team filled this time with the usual horseshoes, swimming, napping, and playing some rousing games of catch. At 4:30 the veterans of the team went out for another run. Meanwhile, the freshman stayed back for a few drills and some intense aqua-jogging.  Plaz showed all the young guys how it was done during the jogging, and Alex Brend had quite the kick in kayak races.

Now that the workouts were done for the day, it was time for the start of a dynasty in badminton by Greg and Aaron Bartnik. The super duo of Greg and Bartnik impressively faced eight different teams, and defeated all of them. With the net up, excitement for the badminton tournament is in the air. Next, it was yet another delicious dinner by Bunch. Stuffed peppers, potatoes, beans, rice, and salad was enjoyed by everyone.

After dinner, the night developed into some serious relaxing time and even more badminton. Some of the older guys started a strategic game of Risk. Once the sun started to slip away, it was easy to see the sunburn some of the guys had acquired.  Coach Rombough looks like he could use a healthy dose of sunscreen tomorrow.  Before long, it was time to hit the sack and rest up for tomorrow. Another great day being a gopher!

Camp Blog Day 1: The Start of Something Special

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Gopher MensCC Camp Blog 8/25/11

By: Sophomore Drew Paradis

     August 25th, 2011, all the compliance meetings, physicals, and preparations are a thing of the past. Today Gopher Cross Country 2011 began as we headed off to the northland of Nevis at Belle Shores Resort on Lake Belle Taine. For a few of us guys, we headed out at 7 a.m. for a short morning run on campus before finishing packing our gear up. Then at 9 a.m., our 5 car caravan headed out of the city on I-94. After making a short pit stop at Bohunks Sandwiches in Little Falls, we continued on to Nevis and arrived a little after 1 p.m.. The vans were unpacked, cabin assignments handed out, and after our homes for the next week were inspected and rooms claimed, we gathered on the beach for instructions and greetings from the owners, Wayne and Erna Johnson.

     For the next hour and half or so the front lawn was full of Frisbee and football action along with an intense horseshoe competition between the team of Pieter Gagnon and Paul Hilsen, and Hassan Mead and me. Unfortunately, Hassy and I were unable to match the fantastic play of Mr. Gadgets (Gagnon) and Mr. Katy Perry (Hilsen)...both engineer majors. We believe their engineering background was a reason for their remarkable tosses and bounces. Bunch (Coach Plaz's sister) prepared a delicious light lunch for everyone, which then led everyone to retreat to their respective cabins for a short nap before our run at 4:30.

     At 4:30, we drove to Paul Bunyan State Forest where we ran on a forest road for a comfortable 55 to 65 minutes depending on how each person was feeling. After completing some strides, we headed back to Belle Shores where we had some group core and the freshman learned what CC Abs all entailed. The lake was the place to go next to cool off and shower up out at the raft. 

     Dinner time arrived as Bunch prepared a Beef Stew along with rice, salad, dinner rolls, and milk...perfect after a good day of training and fun. For the next hour and a half, another round of Frisbee, football, horseshoes, and even a little whiffle ball occurred before we headed to the grocery store for individual snacks. Most of the guys hit the sack once arriving back to the resort to get some good rest before our 8 a.m. run. Day 1 Complete!

Photos from Day 1 of camp

Men's Cross Country Reports for Fall Training

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Slideshow Day 1

The 2011 edition of Golden Gopher Cross Country has arrived! Today the men's team reported for a long day of activities gearing up for the start of the season. Head coach Steve Plasencia welcomed 21 student-athletes on Wednesday. 

The day consisted of physicals, equipment being issued, meetings with compliance officials, academics and each member of the team got a picture taken for the media.

To finish up the day the group went through a light workout in the area.  Tomorrow the Gophers' travel to Nevis, MN to train for a week on Lake Belle Taine. The Maroon and Gold will be training twice a day for a week. While up in Nevis, members of the squad will have blogs posted to Gophersports.com. 

Please check back each day for updates.


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